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International Students in NYC

 |  StatsBee

by Kevin McCaffrey, Economics Research and Analysis Project Manager 

More international students are now attending U.S. colleges than ever before. According to a report by the Institute of International Education, there are currently 40% more international students studying in the U.S. than there were 10 years ago. 

In New York City alone, 46,870 foreign students were enrolled during the 2012–2013 school year. U.S. News & World Report states that both New York University and Columbia University rank among the top 25 U.S. schools for international students as a percentage of total students, with 12% each. The New School ranks #1 with 29% of its entire student population hailing from foreign countries. 

International higher education students in the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area (NYC MSA), which incorporates parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, total 69,018. This makes the NYC MSA the top metropolitan area in the country, with more international students than any other MSA in the country. 

Top Countries of Origin Among International Students in NYC MSA, 2011-2012

Place of Origin% of Total (out of 64,824)
China23.3
South Korea 

14.6

India12.8
Canada4.9
Taiwan3.2
Turkey2.5
Japan2.3
France1.7
Germany1.4
United Kingdom1.4

Asia is the NYC MSA's leading source of international students, with over 50% of the total number coming from China, India, and South Korea.  China, with the world's largest population and a high regard for leading U.S. universities, sends the most students by a significant margin. According to the Institute of International Education, China nearly doubled the number of students it sent to the NYC MSA, from 7,831 to 15,104, in the three academic years from 2008–2009 to 2011–2012. The following chart shows the top places of origin during the 2011–2012 school year for students in the NYC MSA:

*Note: values are approximate and based off the percentages and total in the table above. 

There are many benefits to a city with a thriving international student population. The experience provides domestic students with campus diversity and new ways of thinking. Foreign students learn to understand Americans and appreciate New York City, while building mutual goodwill in an increasingly globalized world. 

With the trade of education services for money from outside the economy, higher education for foreign students can be considered an export industry. According to the International Student Economic Value Tool from NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the money that international students spend on tuition and living expenses supports an estimated 20,279 direct and indirect jobs and has an economic impact of $1.6 billion.

Photo Credit: SLU Madrid Campus via Flickr

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